Thursday, May 16, 2019

Protecting American Votes and Elections Act of 2019


Washington, D.C. - May 16, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., joined Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and 11 other Senate co-sponsors today to introduce an expanded version of Sen. Wyden's bill to protect American elections from foreign interference by mandating hand-marked paper ballots and setting new cybersecurity standards for all federal elections. The bill provides the strongest protection for American elections of any proposal currently before Congress.

The Protecting American Votes and Elections Act of 2019 is co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., is introducing the companion bill in the House of Representatives.

The PAVE Act requires paper ballots and statistically rigorous “risk-limiting” audits for all federal elections – two measuresrecommended by experts in a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2018? report on election security. Read a summary of the bill here.

“The Russian government interfered in American elections in 2016 and if we don't stop them, they and other governments are going to do it again. The administration refuses to do what it takes to protect our democracy, so Congress has to step up. Our bill will give voters the confidence they need that our elections are secure,” Wyden said. “The PAVE Act scraps insecure voting machines that are juicy targets for hackers and replaces them with reliable, secure hand-marked paper ballots. It gives states the funding they need to defend their election systems and puts the Department of Homeland Security in charge of setting strong security standards for every federal election.”

“If the 2016 and 2018 elections taught us anything, it is that our election security systems are woefully inadequate,” said Congressman Blumenauer. “The Trump administration’s response has been lackluster, foreign actors continue to attempt to infiltrate our elections, and now there are serious concerns about Trump’s willingness to accept the results of the 2020 election. Mandatory paper ballots and risk-limiting audits are imperative to maintain the American public’s confidence in our elections.”

“The PAVE Act is a robust and common sense plan to finally safeguard our elections. States have been left in the lurch, exposed to malicious meddling by foreign adversaries and struggling to keep up,” Senator Blumenthal said. “Congress should set meaningful cybersecurity standards and provide resources to help states modernize and secure their voting machines. On election day, Americans must be able to trust that their choice is fairly and accurately counted.”

“The Mueller report made it clear that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and yet we have seen no plan from the Trump administration on how to combat foreign governments from attacking future elections,” said Senator Markey. “The PAVE Act would codify commonsense practices and help ensure that our country is able to withstand any threats to our democracy. The integrity of American elections must be unquestioned and unimpeachable. Attacks on our elections are not just attacks on a party, but on the entire country.”

“We know our foreign adversaries are trying to hack into our voting systems, so it is downright irresponsible not to use existing, better, more secure alternatives,” said Senator Merkley. “Oregon has been a trail blazer in securing elections by issuing every voter a paper ballot. Congress should follow suit and implement this system nationwide to protect every American’s vote and the integrity of our democracy.”

“Americans deserve safe and secure elections that aren’t threatened by foreign adversaries. In Illinois, a state whose election database Special Counsel Mueller confirmed the Russians broke into, this investment is critical to protect our voting system,”Senator Duckworth said. “Senator Wyden’s PAVE Act, which requires paper ballots and post-election audits, is a common-sense approach to upholding the integrity of each American’s vote and strengthening our election security. In the aftermath of the special counsel’s investigation into the 2016 election, this legislation is more important than ever.”

“Elections are at the heart of our democracy. We must strengthen our election systems to limit their vulnerability to hackers and foreign interference,” said Senator Warren. “This bill takes important steps to maintain the integrity of our democracy by updating aging election infrastructure and mandating the use of paper ballots and post-election audits to protect against cyberattacks.”

“Voting is one of the cornerstones of our democracy, and we must never allow our elections to be vulnerable to interference again,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The PAVE Act would help ensure the validity of election results by requiring a paper receipt for every vote, providing states with the resources they desperately need to upgrade their voting machines, and creating new cybersecurity standards at the voting booth. Congress has a responsibility to secure the integrity of our elections, and I am proud to join with Senator Wyden to introduce this bill that strengthens our country’s election infrastructure.”

“American intelligence officials have made it clear that we face an ongoing threat to our elections from foreign adversaries and hackers. We must take action to protect the integrity of the vote,” said Senator Baldwin. “This legislation to require paper ballots and secure our federal elections is a commonsense solution that will strengthen election security and help protect our democracy from foreign interference.”

“We need to be honest about the fact that a foreign government interfered in the 2016 election—and that if we continue to do nothing to improve our election infrastructure, we’re leaving our country vulnerable to attack once again,” said Senator Harris. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation because paper ballots are the single best way to secure our elections. Foreign governments can’t hack a piece of paper.”

Key Provisions

The new PAVE Act bans internet, WiFi and cellular connections for voting machines, and gives the Department of Homeland Security the authority to set, for the first time, minimum cybersecurity standards for voting machines, voter registration databases, electronic poll books used to 'check in' voters at polling places and election night reporting websites.

The bill also provides state and local governments with $500 million dollars to buy new, secure ballot scanning machines, and $250 million to buy new ballot marking devices to be used by voters with disabilities. It also permits the federal government to reimburse states the cost of conducting post-elections audits, as well as the cost of designing and printing ballots.

These measures, collectively, are necessary to fix the vulnerabilities in our election infrastructure highlighted by Russia in 2016, to secure our elections from foreign hackers and give voters confidence in election results.

Bipartisan Kennedy-Carper Bill To Stop Paying Dead People Advances Out of Committee

by: Senator John Kennedy (R-LA)

Washington, D.C. - May 16, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) advanced the bipartisan Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act. The bill, introduced by Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) would help save millions of taxpayer dollars by curbing erroneous payments to deceased individuals.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains the most complete federal database of individuals who are reported to have died. However, only a small number of federal agencies have access to this official list, and most federal agencies rely on a slimmed down, incomplete and less timely version of the death information. In addition, most Inspectors General lack access to the complete death information. As a result, many federal agencies make erroneous payments to people who are actually deceased.

In the Senate, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Gary Peters (D-MI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Bipartisan companion legislation was also introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.).

“Taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be wasted on paying government benefits to dead people. We know the dead people aren’t cashing those checks. Their relatives are,” said Sen. Kennedy. “It’s just throwing hard-earned taxpayer money into the pockets of con artists. We can easily do something about that.”

“As government officials, one of our most important responsibilities is to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Senator Carper. “That’s why, for years, I have worked across the aisle to assess federal government spending and eliminate billions of taxpayer dollars in waste, fraud and abuse. But there is still work to be done. With a little hard work and bipartisanship, we can take the common sense steps necessary to reduce improper payments and put these funds to better use for the American people.”

Key provisions in the bill include:

Allowing Federal Agencies Access to the Complete Death Database. Under current law, only federal agencies that directly manage programs making beneficiary payments have access to complete death data. The act allows all appropriate federal agencies to have access to the complete death data for program integrity purposes, as well as other needs such as public safety and health.

Requiring Use of Death Data to Curb Improper Payments. The act would require that federal agencies make appropriate use of the death data in order to curb improper payments.

Improving the Death Data. The legislation would establish procedures to ensure more accurate death data. For example, the bill requires the SSA to screen for “extremely elderly” individuals. This is in response to a 2015 Inspector General Report that identified 6.5 million individuals currently listed as being older than 112 years of age as still alive.

Organizations that supported the bill in 2018 included American Commitment, Americans for Tax Reform, Coalition to Reduce Spending, FreedomWorks, National Taxpayers Union, Project on Government Oversight, 60 Plus Association, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

SNAP, Health Insurance, Abortion, Uranium, Haunted Dolls, Police

Today's Interesting News

May 10, 2019
House Bill 3343 would establish the Restaurant Meals Program as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services. The program would allow those enrolled in SNAP to use their benefits on meals at fast-food restaurants.


Newsom aims to restore health insurance mandate
Source: ABC 10 News San Diego
May 15, 2019
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has launched a statewide tour to promote his health care proposals, which include requiring everyone to purchase health insurance and offering subsidies to families of four with incomes as high as $150,000 a year.


Alabama Senate approves near-total abortion ban
Source: KSLA News 12
May 15, 2019
The bill makes performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony unless the mother’s health is in danger.


Ohio school closes after enriched uranium detected, officials say
Source: FOX News
May 15, 2019
An Ohio school district has sent hundreds of students home early for the summer after the presence of a radioactive material used in the creation of nuclear weapons was detected inside its middle school.


Thousands Of “Haunted Dolls” That Are Supposedly Inhabited By Real Spirits Are Being Sold On Etsy And Ebay
Source: End Times Headlines
May 15, 2019
Once upon a time, it would have been unthinkable to try to sell “haunted dolls” that are supposedly inhabited by real spirits in America. But in 2019, apparently, anything goes.


Police Now Going Undercover as Construction Workers
Source: America Uncensored
May 15, 2019
The Free Thought Project has reported on many stories over the years about police schemes designed to separate the citizens from their money but carried out under the ostensible notion of “keeping you safe.” One of these cases has surfaced out of Illinois recently showing just how far police will go to ticket people for alleged traffic offenses.